Many decision-makers have discovered that big data can lead to a variety of benefits, from predictive analytics to human resources management to social collaboration. Enterprises have been among the biggest drivers of big data adoption, largely for its predictive and social analytics, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan report. But as a recent TechAmerica Foundation survey indicates, the public sector is on the verge of full-scale big data implementation.
"By combining disparate sources of data and analyzing them in real time, government leaders and citizens can turn 'big data' into 'smart data' and gain a much clearer picture of how to save taxpayer dollars and even save lives," said Jennifer Morgan, president of SAP Public Services.
According to the report, big data's potential impact on government agencies could be enormous. More than 80 percent of federal IT professionals believe these solutions could reduce the government's budget 10 percent, a total of approximately $380 billion and $1,200 per person. In addition to reducing debt, three-quarters of respondents said real-time big data would give them the insight to provide better and more personal service to citizens.
The benefits could be even greater than simply saving money, particularly for the healthcare industry. Nearly 90 percent of federal respondents and 75 percent of state IT professionals said big data tools could save a substantial amount of lives each year through capabilities like enhanced medical research. Three-quarters of respondents, meanwhile, cited big data's predictive analysis tools as a potential crime reducer.
Lack of awareness posing obstacles
Although big data is in its infanct stage of development, the technology is already relatively advanced. It's been other obstacles – notably a lack of awareness of big data's pervasive benefits – that pose the biggest challenges to full-scale adoption.
"That governments can save money and improve their service to citizens is clear from this study but it's also clear that we must find ways to overcome adoption barriers – quickly," said TechAmerica Foundation President Jennifer Kerber.
The survey revealed that concerns about privacy, high prices and seeing a return on investment represent the biggest obstacles, cited by 47 percent, 39 percent and 42 percent of respondents, respectively. A separate survey by SHL revealed that HR departments are largely in the dark about how they can leverage big data to make their lives easier.
While these concerns may be valid, they are likely overstated. Morgan noted that tackling these obstacles will be essential so that the government "can gain the enormous benefits of using big data tools."